Quieting the Noise

We live in such a noisy world. And somehow, I feel obligated to keep up with it all. The first thing I do most mornings is check my email. If I have time, and sometimes even if I don’t, I check twitter and facebook, too. There are blogs to read, photos to like, videos to see, perfect sound bites to retweet. Something in me thinks that I have to read every single thing that’s been posted since I was last on and I work so hard to keep up. Several voices have spoken lately about the deluge of information we face and how our digital lives are shaping the rest of our lives.

I take in so much information on a daily basis. I can’t help but wonder how much of it I’m actually absorbing and how much of it is a waste of time and energy. There are words that I have found on the Internet that have made space for my weary heart to rest and I am grateful. Words that have spoken hope when I wasn’t sure that there was any. But there are so many words.

Even my words here, I wonder if they really matter. I wonder if I’m doing anything more than adding to the noise—the same noise I’m so desperate to escape from.

Last week I self-evaluated my stress level for one of my classes. Based on the assessment we used, my stress levels are incredibly high. Even my textbook knows that I need to do something about it. And I am. There are so many different things I could point to as sources of stress. Only so many of them are things I can control.

On top of all of it, my health is not where it should be. It’s probably equal parts cause and effect of said stress. This week I finally started moving towards regaining my health, but it’s going to take time.

Then I read Allison Vesterfelt’s “Slowing Down, Finding Healing, Uncovering Grace.” She said something in there about staring her days slower, about not staring them with her computer.

I’m a perfectionist. I have an amazing capacity to put pressure on myself to do, do, do. I have to keep up with everything. I have to read all the tweets. I don’t like slowing down. But if I am going to find healing, if I’m going to reduce this stress, then I’m going to have to. And I am.

I’m starting by reducing the noise. Last week I unfollowed forty-something people on twitter. I unfollowed people on Facebook, too—people I don’t really know but know far too much about because of the Internet. I re-blocked Pinterest on my computer. I unsubscribed from some emails. I found freedom in those simple buttons.

Slowing the flow of digital information won’t take my stress away. I know that. But it’s a start. It’s something I can control. Quieting the noise.

And maybe in the quiet I will learn to slow down.